Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014 Holidays at the Zoo

Zoo Friends in Rain on Xmas Eve

I visited the Zoo Friends on Christmas Eve Day.  During my visit it began to rain.  Since we have been having usually cold weather, I was more pissed than usual to see so many of the Animals forced out on exhibit.

The Zoo for years has had a sign at the entrance that notes that all Animals have access to the inside.  That has always been a flat out lie.  Many Animals are locked out on exhibit all day.  I investigated this several years ago, when my Precious Tapir Friend Goober, with terminal Health issues was allegedly by Management orders forced to be on exhibit.  I was outraged about this, and one day it came to a head when it was raining and there he stood in the rain staring at his bedroom door.  

As I went around the Zoo in the rain, giving Holiday Greetings to the Friends, I was really upset to see so many out.

 44 year old Elly, staring at her door

 Tucker, sleeping as usual under water, no choice but to

 Lions seek shelter

Indian Rhino Gauhati's door is always closed

Zoo Lights Lite

Busy and/or Sick the last few weeks, I finally got to Zoo Lights tonight, the last night.  Two words, Big Fail.  I hate to pick at things especially at this time in my Zoo passion issues, which are concentrated on the Chimps, Animal safety and proper living environments, but after seeing the Komodo Dragon still in a barren home (see previous post),  I'm once again bothered at the Zoo just seeming to not really give a shit.  Its either that, collaborative inemptness and cross the board laziness.  Either way you look at it, too much is left to Mediocrity.  

The Zoo has done this Event for three years now.  The first year they had some technical difficulties, but the attempt was decent and the part I saw was impressive and we had a great time.  Read my review here: 

Last year I had high hopes, as so many Zoo's were putting on really great displays and our Zoo seemed like it was trying.  I thought it fell short in light display, seeing as it is a "light" Event.   I thought the craft vendors and food truck were a great add. 

This year, Friends who had gone early in the Event said they were really disappointed.  After seeing some of the displays up prior, I had a feeling the effort to do a good Event wasn't going to be there.  Sadly I was right.  

I feel bad to hate on these little trees that could, but seriously, these poor little tree's deserved to be pretty.  Where did they get these decorations and who decorated them?   Even the Gulls were outraged, as I got a photo (I can't find) of them screaming at one.

And, I think the Zoo has lost sight of the fact that this is a Light Event, which means, don't go lite on the amount of lights.  Does anyone look at other Zoo (Point Defianace) Displays?   Are they aware that there is a whole TV Show (Great Christmas Light Fight) based on this?    The Show now in its second season has had two Marin based contestants.  The Zoo needs to get their number and get some help if they plan to do this again.  If you are not going to Wow people, dim the lights and get out of the game.

Here are some photos.  Again the Snowflakes on the ground were the best part.  Thankfully I took the photo of the three lit Animals at the Entry going in, because they were out an hour later when I left.   I was told they "shorted out".   Each year there has been electrical issues and parts of the Event blacked out.   If the Zoo can't handle keeping lights on, then don't have an Event that is about lights.

So yeah, not enough lights, and hardly any food.  The food options were pathetic, especially for an Event that takes place during the Dinner hours.   No Food Truck, only the Lemur Cafe had food and not even full Menu they usually have. I'm pretty sure there were less than ten menu items.   We left after an hour to spend money elsewhere on food.

One right thing they did was have Keeper Nancy out at Koalas sharing her knowledge and photos.   As well she was after doing the same at Giraffes, but we had to leave to seek food.  AND of course the Reindeer.  I love seeing them.

In hindsight, I'm not even sure Snow Flurry machine was on that night.  I think I would have noticed.  So, possibly no Snow, no real food options.  If you can't put on full experience as advertised, dont do it.  People are paying to get in as well some paying more than entrance fee to park.

If I was in charge of this Event and only had the amount of lights in use, I would concentrate them into a smaller area.  Having parts of the Zoo open when not many Animals to see ( I knew this and was not expecting more) is a waste of light space, especially when nothing else is going on in those areas.   Condense efforts, by reducing and changing the areas open during the event.  This would make the "light" portion of the event appear to be more.

I think the Event would be better off if it were only open at Entry Village, Playfield, a portion of the Childrens Zoo.  I think the Craft Vendors and Food Trucks (plural) should be a part of it always.   As well that awesome video display from the first year.  What happened to that?   There is much unused space beyond the tent, in front of the Mothers Building.  Even if they can't figure out what they are doing with the MB, they can at least do something with the area instead of closing it off.  I think it should be a Zoo History House with Memorbilia, but I hear that the Zoo threw out alot of the historical photos and video.  Allegedly no one found value it in.  More disgrace.  But I digress.  Keep the lights concentrated to Entry Village and the path to the Playfield.  Vendors and Food by Mothers Building.  I mentioned the CZ.  I think they should open the right side path, open the ARC (which is rarely open now) and allow people to have a chance to see those rarely seen Animals and have a portion of the Farm viewable.  I say viewable because I don't think crowds of people should be in the Farm after hours, but I do think they should take advantage of putting together a Manger scene in the first corral and having some of our wonderful Farm Friends involved.  They also need to build on the festive as there was none.  I don't remember hearing any Christmas music and I'm not even a fan of it.  But, at an Event, I think its a must.  Hire Carollers, something.  Hand out Candy Canes.  Something.  The two costumed Characters were the only interactive festive elements to the Event.

My Friend pointed out that there wasn't even one Security Guard visable.  In fact the place was void of any Zoo Staff.  Why is there never one Zoo Official at any Event other than ZooFest or another cocktail party type event?  Not that I think its a good idea for our Director to be out at Events, but at least it would show a sense of care if she were, as well other higher up Staffers.  She didn't even make an appearace at the Flamingo Day Event (which I stil haven't reviewed) and those Flamingo Chicks shoudl have gotten major recognition since they were the first in four years.  She just doesn't seem to care about anything.  And what about Bob Cooney, head of Visitor Experience?  What's he doing that he can't be out at Events greeting Visitors.  The Zoo often just throws Events together and no one from the "team" is there to be interactive with guests.   

That all said,  I'm also bothered by things in the past that weren't done again this Holiday Season.

Animals Get No Presents 

A Christmas time Event that stopped when the Zoo opted instead for Zoo Lights, was an Event of Gift Giving from one species of Animal to another.  Like the Otters would give to the Lions.  So then the Lions would get Christmas decorated boxes.  Toy Enrichment "presents" filled with treats.  Again everyone knows I'm a big fan of Enrichment, and especially love seeing the Animals get Holiday/Birthday themed toy items.  With the elimination of this, the Zoo is down to only giving the Animals this type of fun during the Halloween Event and even thats gone iffy, OR if a randon Animal rates a Birthday treat.  

Speaking of Birthday treats.  (chk which year 2012 or 2013)  For several years the Polars got Snow, donated by the San Francisco Ice Company.  Understandable if there was no donation, and I have no idea how that comes about.  Just saying that I miss it and the Polars loved it.  Reason I'm bring it up is more because of the Birthday Fail.  The Zoo (outside the Family Farm) rarely, recognizes the Animals on their Birthdays, whether it be a Facebook shout out or a special treat (both should be mandatory).  I can't say never, because there is that rare occasion for whatever reason (usually media attention) one Animal will rate something.   One of those occasions was when they turned the last Snow donation, into an "Event" to pimp out the Polars Birthdays for Media attention and to attract Visitors.  A sign was posted at their homes for a couple weeks wishing them "Happy Birthday".  I hate that the Animals are used in that way, but if it gets them special treats, whatever.  I will say it was the last time they got special attention for their Birthdays and the only other time before that was when my Friend Lee and I made them and the other Bears Birthday Enrichment Toys in 2011.  This year, both Pike whose Birthday was November 25th and Ulu whose Birthday was December 19th got no mention and no special treats.   In fact while I was there on Pike's Birthday, I was bothered to watch Ulu get thrown treats (but happy she did) while Pike got none and it was her Birthday.   Neither got a mention on the Zoo's Facebook Page.

Our Polars are two of my fav Zoo Friends.  I love these Girls!  Happy Birthday to Pike who turned 32 and to Ulu who turned 34!  Both Bears have reached milestone ages, with Ulu being the oldest female in captivity in a North American Zoo.   The Zoo should not only be celebrating the Animals on their special days, but especially our wonderful Seniors who have given so many years of joy to people.   Elly the Black Rhino will turn 44 January 1st!  Sadly she will most likely not get any mention or special treats.


  1. The zoo lights were quite pitiful this year. No great food, just leftover food from the lunch crowd that needed to be heated...no thanks. I went the last day also. I first thought, "did the zoo figure its the last day so don't bother with much?". No music, no proper food and its at dinner time, and I didn't see one security officer or any zoo management welcoming people.

  2. oh, I also want to call attn. to the fact that in horrible weather, the animals are forced out on exhibit. This is wrong on many levels and in my book, it's abuse.


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